Fuel

Fuel, both regular gasoline and diesel, is abundantly available throughout Baja. There are only a few stretches of highway, particularly along a 200-mile (320 km) stretch of Federal Highway 1 between El Rosario on the north and Jesus Maria to the south, where fuel is limited. 

And even here it is possible to purchase fuel from 55-gallon drums from vendors on the side of the road (if you trust the quality!). Virtually everywhere else throughout Baja should be within your fuel tank range. However, we like to try and stay above half a tank as we travel the peninsula out of an abundance of caution. 

When it comes to filling your fuel tank, do not expect to pump your own gas. In fact, all gas stations in Baja will have pump attendants that will take care of that for you. Although there have been many rumors of deceitful activities at various gas stations in Baja over the years, you are likely to have a positive experience, particularly if you follow these procedures. 

First, pull up to the pump completely before stopping your vehicle. Use your side view mirror to keep an eye on the attendant, who will likely advise you when it is OK to stop. Then, immediately get out of your vehicle to meet the attendant at the pump. 

You can sort through your wallet and other items in the RV once the pump is turned on. But it is important to greet the attendant before they begin pumping fuel. 

The attendant will ask you what type of fuel you would like and then they will “zero out” the meter. Good attendants are used to skeptical gringos looking over their shoulders and they will show you the zeros (“ceros”) on their own initiative. 

If the attendant does not show you the zeros, ask them kindly. This is one way in which past scams have taken place, whereby you overpay for gas you do not receive because the pump already shows some amount on the screen. 

When it comes time to pay, if paying with cash, be sure to count the bills out in plain sight. Another rumored scam is unsavory attendants claiming either that you did not hand them the proper amount of cash or that they hand you back a wad of change that is not properly counted. 

When paying with cash, we always hand over near exact amounts and count it out as we hand it to the attendant. It is very likely they will still recount it in front of you. However, having exact or close to exact change will make it less likely you will have any negative experience when getting fuel. 

And yes, we recommend that you follow this procedure every time you get fuel. We trust people quite a bit. But it is wise to always be aware as this issue with gas station attendants in particular has drawn the ire of many travelers over the years. 

Note, it is not required or customary to tip the attendant. However, we will typically round up a few pesos when paying with cash as a simple gesture of gratitude to someone who works all day for very little pay. 

EXPERT TIP
Using a cashback or points-based credit card is a good way to take advantage of being able to use your preferred credit card at most gas stations in Baja. However, it is also good practice to always have pesos on hand (US dollars as a last resort) in the event you are unable to use your credit card at the only gas station around. 

For example, there is still a cash-only gas station in the Bay of Los Angeles where we have known several travelers to get creative in payment as they were nearly 100 miles (160 km) from the next closest gas station. 

We use our Capital One Cashback Credit card to receive unlimited 1.5% cashback on all fuel payments with zero foreign transaction fees. 

Contact us directly if you are interested in opening a Capital One account. We’ll send you a link where you can quickly open an account and credit card with a $200 cash bonus!